Soil Water Potential and Potassium Application Effects on Yield and Biochemical Characteristics of Thomson Navel Orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck.)
IntroductionCitrus is the main fruit group grown in tropical as well as sub-tropical climate of more than 150 countries in the world. In Iran, the total area under citrus crops is 0.284 M ha with a production of 4.345 M ton and a productivity of 17 ton per ha. Citrus is also one of the most important horticultural products in Mazandaran, with 112,000ha devoted to its cultivation. Drought stress is frequent in Iran and is common in the dry summer periods in Mazandaran. Therefore, irrigation is essential during mentioned periods in this province. Irrigation scheduling and water requirement of the citrus crops are one of the main concerns of the citrus fruit production. Irrigating based on soil water potential (tensiometer) is one of the irrigation scheduling methodologies. In addition, fertilization is used to promote quantity and quality of fruit production. Potassium has a key role in the osmotic adjustment of plants and alleviate the effects of drought stress. Until now, studies on citrus to evaluate the effects of potassium fertilization to mitigate the negative effects of drought stress have not been conducted. In the present study, we hypothesised that K applications via soil could contribute to osmotic adjustment of citrus and alleviate the effects of drought stress. Thus, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the effects of different soil water potential and rate of potassium (K) application on biochemical indices and growth responses of Thomson navel (Citrus, sinensis (L.) osbeck) orange seedlings on Citrumelo rootstock.
Materials and MethodsThis study site was located at the Citrus and Subtropical Fruit Research Center of Horticultural Science Research Institute (36°54′11″N, 50°39′30″E), with a mean annual rainfall of 1200 mm. Thomson navel trees (Citrus, sinensis (L.) were planted at 7 × 6m distances. Soil had a pH (soil-to-water suspension ratio of 1:2) of 6.2 and contained 14.3 g kg−1 organic C and CaCO3<1%. The texture of soil was clay loam. A two-year field study was conducted in a factorial experiment based on randomized complete block design with four selected ranges of soil water potential, two levels of K application, and four replicates. Irrigations were scheduled using soil moisture tensiometers. The irrigation treatments were scheduled when soil water tensions reached 20, 40, and 60 kilopascal (kPa) on the tensiometers per treatment and results were compared with control (none irrigation) treatment. Soil water tensions of 20, 40, and 60 kPa correspond to soil water depletions of 17, 35, and 52%, respectively, of the available soil water for the studied soil. Levels of K fertilizer were 50 (k1) and 100 (K2) g K × age of tree. Potassium fertilizer was broadcast below the tree canopy in March. At the end of each year, yield, available K and some growth indices were measured. In addition, in the last year, proline, ionic leakage and electrical conductivity were also measured. All data were represented as mean of four replicates. Differences in yield, canopy diameter and available K among fertilizer and irrigation treatments and sampling years were analyzed using general linear model two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) in SAS 9.1. Since the mentioned attributes were measured during two years to take into account annual variation, we used ANOVA procedure for a combined analysis of data. The significance of differences between the mean of treatments were determined by using Duncan test. All the statistical analyzes were performed by SAS 9.2.
Results and DiscussionThe results showed that irrigation increased the canopy diameter (P<0.05). Under K1 application, the tree yield was not significantly different (P≥0.05) between irrigation at different water potentials (I1, I2 and I3). However, the K effects on tree yield depended on soil water potential and the positive effects of K2 application were evident only in the I2 and I3 treatments. However, K2 application reduced the yield in irrigation treatments including I0 and I1 significantly (P<0.05) compared with K1 application. In addition, the results of the last year showed that proline and ionic leakage were increased (P<0.05) by reduce of water potential in irrigation time. However, double application of K (K2) increased (P<0.05) proline and decreased ionic leakage as compared with normal application of K (K1). Moreover, available K and electrical conductivity were increased (P<0.05) by excessive application of K and reduce of soil water potential.
ConclusionIn summary, regarding this experiment, irrigation at 60 kPa (depletion coefficient =52%) and potassium application rate of 50 g K × age of tree was the best treatment.
Journal of water and soil, Volume:32 Issue: 5, 2019
961 - 975
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